Humans of Harker: Reaching out

Shania Wang looks for multidimensionality through kindness and friendship


Ryan Guan

“Stories of humanity inspire me. All of us have burdens and strengths and power and stuff that we’ve overcome in life. Everyone has a story to share. At coffee shops, the random person sitting next to you has a lot of cool perspectives on life,” Shania Wang (12) said.

Coffee shop lights shine in Shania Wang (12)’s bright eyes as she bursts out laughing, covering her broad grin with one hand and tossing back her hair with the other. It doesn’t matter whether her conversation partner is a stranger she’s chatting with to learn their story or a close friend who’s come to her for advice: she’s ever energetic and compassionate.

“Stories of humanity inspire me. All of us have burdens and strengths and power and stuff that we’ve overcome in life,” Shania said. “Everyone has a story to share. At coffee shops, the random person sitting next to you has a lot of cool perspectives on life.”

Among the upper school student body, Shania might be best known for leading Student Council’s efforts to bring a more casual, inclusive talent show — Quadchella — to the upper school starting in 2017. She appreciates Quadchella most for its ability to showcase her peers’ hidden talents, just as she tries to delve into her friends’ multidimensionality.

“I feel like most people’s conceptions about people are very one-faceted,” Shania said. “Quadchella is nice in the sense that you don’t have to be amazing at a certain talent, but you still can share it with people. You don’t have to be just the person that everyone thinks you are.”

What brings together Shania’s various leadership experiences and her friendships is her deep love of helping people: being the “mom” friend and the friendly leader.

“I want to be the kind of person who people know they can go to for anything,” Shania said. “Everyone knows that I’m very open: I’m not going to hold judgement against people. If they need help or they need anything, I want to be able to help them, to be the person that they can count on.”

As ASB vice president, she can implement changes that help the student body while working closely with other Student Council members; as DECA CEO, she sees the officers as a “second family.” These moments of human connection make Shania most proud of what she’s accomplished.

“From a student council perspective, seeing everyone wave their phone lights at Quadchella was the moment where I was like, whoa, this is something I’ve done,” Shania said. “Or in DECA, when you see freshmen placing and they’re super happy, that was the moment where I was like, I helped that person get to their goal.”

Shania’s friends consistently describe her as kind, compassionate, and willing to help.

“She cares a lot about other people. I think that everything that they’re going through, she understands and she tries to help them as much as possible,” Shania’s friend Alex Rule (12) said. “For instance, I’ll bring up something in my life at a certain point, and then months later, she’ll bring it up again and say, ‘how’s that going for you?’ She pays a lot of attention to people and makes sure that she can be the best friend she can.”

Shania’s friend Andrea Simonian (12) describes her as both “extraordinarily driven” and always kind and helpful.

“I think anyone knows that Shania can do whatever she puts her mind to. Everything that she does is different, and you would expect most people to only be good at one or two things. She can exceed at all of them and still work harder and still be there for her friends,” Andrea said. “I really like to have olives and celery together; it’s my favorite salad mix. No one else likes it. I remember I was putting olives into a bowl, and Shania is like, ‘Do you want me to add the celery?’ Even if she doesn’t like celery, even if she doesn’t like olives, even if she definitely does not support the combination of the two, she’ll still help you out since she knows that’s what you want.”

Shania puts so much effort into these small-scale gestures of friendship because she appreciates them, too.

“I get really happy about really small things in life. Finding a penny or a dollar will make my day,” Shania said. “Obviously most of us look at the bigger picture, but I don’t feel like people realize the impact that really small things can have. For a period of time, I would have chocolate in my backpack to give to people when they were sad, because those are the small things that would make me happy, the small gestures that mean a lot to me.”

Overall Shania is kind and caring: drawing out people’s hidden qualities, helping and appreciating people as a leader and friend, and making the smallest moments matter.

“She immediately, on the very first day of freshman orientation, struck me as somebody who is kind and caring and outgoing, but really solid: just a cool, solid person,” Jane Keller, Shania’s advisor, said. “I think I will always remember the way she smiles. She has a funny smile and a way of looking at you that makes you feel good. In decades and decades from now, when I hear about how she’s doing, that’s what I’m going to see.”